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Empire state of mind

Winnipegger home to open festival during break from his N.Y. studies

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CURTIS Nowosad's life these days is like a tale of two cities.

The drummer is studying for a master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music and performing in New York. He also will open the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival theatre series on June 16 with his quintet, featuring saxophonist Jimmy Greene.

That's not a bad way to let the fans back home know you're still on your game.

Oh yeah, while in Winnipeg he's also recording music for his second album.

Fans can expect to hear some of the new music at the festival concerts, Nowosad said before heading out on a western Canadian tour. Also expect tunes from his debut disc, The Skeptic & the Cynic, along with music composed by Greene.

Nowosad's also the feature artist at the University of Manitoba jazz camp, which runs Aug. 17-23, and will perform at the Ottawa Jazz Festival and at the Montreal International Jazz Festival in the Grand Jazz Award competition. While in Montreal, Nowosad and Winnipeg saxophonist Niall Bakkestad-Legare will take part in a jazz-composer's competition.

It will be a good summer for the drummer, but he says he's really looking forward to the Winnipeg show with Greene, who taught in the University of Manitoba jazz studies program and was a popular performer during his years here.

The concert will raise funds for the Ana Grace Project, which was set up in memory of Greene's daughter, a victim of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings in 2012. Ten dollars from each ticket will go to the project, which aims to reduce violence.

The show will be Greene's first time performing here since he and his family moved back to his home state of Connecticut. "It will be a chance for Winnipeggers to hear him and say hi," Nowosad says.

Nowosad's band will also include trumpeter Derrick Gardner, bassist Steve Kirby, pianist Will Bonness and some surprise special guests.

Nowosad will be in and out of the city over the summer, touring and returning to New York for a while. "Of course Winnipeg is home: I lived here from (age) three to 25. It's still home, but I've really started to feel at home in New York, where I have a network of people. It's really great to meet so many great musicians and so many great students at MSM," Nowosad adds.

Nowosad was part of a Manhattan School of Music student band that won the Keep an Eye Jazz Award in Amsterdam in March. He was the only Canadian in the competition.

"I've been playing quite a bit around New York where everything just moves so fast," he says.

"Then you realize, 'Hey, I'm starting to sound better.'

"It's good to be home for a month just to process everything."

The Curtis Nowosad Quintet, featuring Jimmy Greene, performs June 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. Tickets are $36.

The Winnipeg International Jazz Festival runs June 12-22 at various venues clustered in the Exchange District, including the Winnipeg Free Press News Café. Theatre shows are at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and Burton Cummings Theatre.

Tickets for all shows are available at, 204-989-4656, or the Jazz Winnipeg office at 007, 100 Arthur St. RMTC and Burton Cummings Theatre tickets are also available at Ticketmaster.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 9, 2014 D3

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